The Obligatory Elements of Wudu'
Its obligatory Elements
How many obligatory elements of wudu' are there and what are they?
There are seven obligatory elements. They are:
4) washing the face
5) washing the arms to the elbows
6) wiping the head
7) washing the feet
When is the intention made? What should someone performing wudu' intend?
The intention should be made at the beginning of the wudu'.* The intention is made by intending one of these three things in the heart:
[*NOTE: The intention must be made before the first obligatory element of wudu', which is the washing of the face. It is recommended that it be made at the very beginning, before washing the hands.]
1. Removing minor ritual impurity
2. Allowing what minor ritual impurity prevents
3. Performing the obligation of wudu'
It is better to not actually articulate the intention with the tongue. Also the intention must be clear, with no doubt entering into it. It is not enough to say, "If I am in a state of impurity, then this wudu' is for that minor ritual impurity."
Does forgetting the intention after having it impair the wudu'?
When someone makes his intention at the beginning of the wudu' and then fails to continue to remember it, that does not impair his wudu' . However if he says, "My wudu' is invalid," or words to that effect while performing his wudu', then his wudu' is invalidated and he must start it again. If says this (that his wudu' is invalid) after his wudu' is over, then his wudu' is unimpaired and he may still pray with it.
What is rubbing? What things are disliked in it?
Rubbing is the passing of the palm of the hand over the limb*. It is recommended that each area is rubbed only once, as it is disliked to go to excess in rubbing or do it with force. The obligation of rubbing is not met by rubbing with the back of the hand, although that is sufficient in the case of ghusl. The palm of the hand must be used.
[* NOTE: what is meant by limb here is the face, arms and feet.]
What is consecutiveness? Is it absolutely mandatory?
Consecutiveness is that wudu' be carried out in one go, without a break between its different elements. Consecutiveness is obligatory when one remembers and is able to do it.
What is the ruling on someone who forgets, who is unable to do it, and someone who deliberately introduces delays between the washing of his limbs (ie. Someone washes his face while doing wudu', then leaves his wudu' to have a cup of tea, then returns to his wudu' and washing his arms)?
1) Someone who forgets: If someone introduces delays between the washing of his limbs in wudu' due to forgetfulness, then he must build on what he has done, whether a long time has passed or only a short time. He must renew his intention.
2) Someone who is unable: If someone introduces delays in the washing of his limbs due to a lack of ability, without himself being the cause of that inability, such as when he fills a container with a sufficient amount of water and then someone pours it out or takes it from him, or it is unintentionally spilled while he is carrying out his wudu', or an impediment arises preventing him finishing his wudu', then his ruling is the same as someone who forgets in that he builds on what he has already done. He does not, however, need to renew his intention.
If someone introduces delays between the washing of his limbs due to a lack of ability, when he is the cause of that lack of ability, such as not being sure that the amount of water he has prepared is adequate, or knowing it to not be adequate, then he builds on what he has done if only a short time has passed. If a long time has passed then he must repeat the entire wudu' with a new intention.
3) If someone introduces delays between the washing of his limbs on purpose, then his ruling is the same as someone who is unable to perform his wudu', being himself the cause of that inability. If a short time has passed, he builds on what he has done. If a long time has passed, he repeats his wudu'.
These rulings are for the one who deliberately introduces delays between his limbs in his wudu' without nullifying his intention. If he does abandon his intention, he must make it again and begin a completely new wudu', whether a long time has passed or only a short time.
What is meant by a long time?
A "long time" is the time it takes for the last limb (that was washed in the wudu) to dry in an average time of the year in which there is no excessive heat, cold or strong winds in an average locality. By 'limb', an average-sized limb in a healthy body is meant, not for example the limb of an old man or a child (or a giant or someone with a fever or cold). By 'average locality' we mean a place which has a moderate climate, not hot like the Hijaz or cold like (Scandinavia).
Washing the face. What are its limits?
In length, the face extends from where the normal roots of the hair on the head begin to the tip of the chin. If the man has a beard he must wash to the end of his beard.
In width, the face extends from the soft bits in front of the right ear to the soft bits in front of the left ear. These fronts of the ears are not considered part of the face nor is the white area above them or the hair of the temples. The white area underneath them is however part of the face. One washes the septum between the nostrils, wrinkles on the forehead (or anywhere else), the outside of the lips and what is difficult to reach or hidden such as eyelids or any wounds or scars on the face.
What is the ruling for someone bald and someone who is hirsute?
It is not mandatory for a bald man to reach the point where the roots of his hair begin. He stops his washing at the point where the roots of the hair would normally start. The hirsute man (the one whose hair grows on his forehead), when washing his face, must was the hair which is below where the normal roots of the hair begin.
Must the water penetrate to the roots of facial hair?
If the hair is thin and the skin can be seen from underneath it, then the water must pentrate to the skin. By penetration we mean that the skin must be rubbed with the water, as the rest of the face, not just that the water touches the skin.
If the hair is thick and the skin can not be seen from underneath it, then it is not mandatory that the water penetrate it. However the water must enter the outside of the hair, even if it does not reach the skin.
Washing the arms. What is the ruling of washing between the fingers and the ruling on removing a ring?
It is mandatory to wash the arms up to and including the elbows. Washing between the fingers is only obligatory as is making sure the water gets to all the cracks and lines of the fingers and hands.
It is not mandatory to remove or move a ring which is allowed by the Shari'a, even if it so tight that the water is unable to go under it. This is true for both men and women who wear rings. As for rings which are forbidden, such as gold rings for men, they must be removed if they are tight. If they are loose, and the water is able to go under them, then it is enough to move them.
The ring which is permitted for men in the Shari'a is that which is made of silver and weighs two dirhams or less.
Wiping the head. What should be included in the wiping? What is the ruling on plaited hair?
It is mandatory to wipe the whole of the head from where the normal roots of the hair begin (adjoining the face) to the nape of the neck. The hair of the temples just above the cheekbone must also be included, as well as the patches of bare skin above the front of the ears (adjoining the temple). It is mandatory to wipe any hair which hangs down (below the nape), even if it is very long.
It is not necessary to undo the plaids, even if they are tightly plaited unless there are a lot of threads, in which case they must be undone. This applies to men and women. Two threads or less may be ignored as may a barrier such as henna.
Washing the feet. What is the ruling on washing between the toes?
It is mandatory to wash the feet, up to and including the ankles. You must make sure to wash those parts that the water doesn't readily or are difficult to rub, such as the Achilles tendon, the heel and the bottom of the foot. It is recommended to wash between the toes and to use the left hand to wipe with.